Study: Load Balancing Boosts WiFi Speeds 400-700 Percent on Crowded Networks
November 16, 2012 6:58 AM
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NC State developed software can be used with existing network protocols and hardware
When it comes to WiFi networks, the key to boosting speed may not lie solely in adopting new,
faster hardware and software protocols
, but also in developing better software to balance loads when networks get overrun with traffic.
North Carolina State
(NC State) have
a program they call WiFox, which dynamically adjust channel priority for different
WiFi access points
, depending on usage.
At 25 users the system showed a 400 percent gain in throughput, while at 45 users the system sped the network up 700 percent versus traditional networking software. Best of all, the researchers say their program plays nicely with existing protocols and network hardware without the need for an upgrade.
The only potential downside is that if by some unfortunate occurrence all the access points in a region were overloaded, the gains might be diminished, hypothetically. But for most scenarios where some areas are swamped and others underutlized, the dynamic prioritizing concept could offer a big step forward.
The researchers are presenting their work at the
ACM CoNEXT 2012
conference in Nice, France. The paper's authors are Arpit Gupta (lead author), a Ph.D. student in computer science at NC State, Jeongki Min, a Ph.D. student at NC State, and Dr.
(senior author), a professor of computer science at NC State.
The research was funded by the
National Science Foundation
NCSU [press release]
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RE: Heavy users beware.
11/16/2012 2:34:56 PM
I don't know what they've done, but this may well not be the case.
The problem with WiFi is that the MAC is crap. By insisting on a distributed MAC rather than a central controller (like the cell phone protocols) a MASSIVE amount of time is spent with either everyone waiting and no-one transmitting, or multiple people transmitting at once and needing to retransmit.
The RIGHT way to fix this would be to adopt a similar MAC (including something like dedicating one OFDM channel to a RACH, so that very short packets and requests to transmit can be fielded without slowing down the bulk system).
In the absence of that, you could imagine software running on every device accessing the network which is essentially doing the same thing --- scheduling who goes when, and handing out those slots. Such a system would require tightly synced clocks, and you would have to reject from the network users who aren't using the custom scheduling software. So it would be feasible in closed environments (eg corporations or universities) but not public environments.
The REAL solution is for the damn IEEE to copy 3GPP (or heck, copy WiMax, I don't care) and use a MAC that doesn't date from 70s.
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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